Thursday, October 9, 2008

New Guidelines Make It Easy To Get Fit

U.S. Government Suggests Weekly Workouts Can Work
“In an effort to help harried Americans fit exercise into their hectic lives, new government guidelines released this week recommend slightly more than two hours of physical activity a week to stay fit. The recommendation tweaks existing guidelines that suggested a daily workout was best. ‘Being physically active is one of the most important things Americans of all ages can do to protect and improve their health,’ said Rear Adm. Penelope Slade Royall, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For most people, all it takes is 2 1/2 hours a week to stay healthy, she noted. ‘The previous recommendation for moderate-intensity physical activity was 30 minutes a day five days a week. This is now just one way to meet the minimum guideline,’ Royall said. ‘The same health benefits accrue to people who exercise vigorously for half the time.’ Being physically active helps reduce the risk of dying early from heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and depression -- and it also helps you think better, according to the guidelines. ‘We are trying to reach out to our sedentary nation and encourage people and help people find ways to become physically active,’ Royall said. ‘We were meant and made to move. In the past, human beings spent their days running around looking for something to eat or running as fast as they could away from something that wanted to eat them.’ Now people have to find ways to integrate exercise into their lives, she added, because, over time, the amount of physical activity people get has been ‘engineered out’ of society. The new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are based on the latest scientific evidence about the health benefits of physical activity. It's the first such review in a decade, Royall noted. But one expert warns that guidelines, while welcome, aren't enough. ‘Guidelines are no panacea,’ said Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. ‘Despite clear guidance on tobacco, many people still smoke. We've had detailed dietary guidelines for years, and the typical American diet still fails to resemble them. Physical activity guidelines are the starting line, not the finish line.’ ‘We now need policies and programs that provide various ways for most of us to meet these guidelines during a standard day or week. And we need the will to make meeting these guidelines a priority for ourselves, and our families,’ Katz added.”

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